大叔齋藤隆

Profile(本格/技巧)
6'-2", 202lb, 2-14-1970
Fastball:90-94mph
Sinker:89-92mph
Slider:81-84mph
Curve:76-78mph
Splitter:?

去年渡海挑戰的Saito兩年來在洛杉磯大展身手,不過因為是以小聯盟約加入的,現在只有兩年年資的Saito兩年來僅領了1.8M,對道奇來說是超級俗又大碗的進口貨,或許也因Saito的緣故而加強了其追逐Kuroda的決心。Saito的武器庫裡由於缺乏逆墜系球路,因此對左打的壓制力較右打者來得弱些,面對左打時的Saito僅算是個很好的投手,沒有像對右打時的神樣威力。先來看看面對左打時的凡人Saito,他會將速球丟在內外角並且不以低角度為主目標,會相當地利用好球帶的上半部,另外會以曲球丟向打者的內外角低處分別以揮空和拿香為目標,再搭配攻擊內角切球功用和外角走後門功用的滑球,也會用外角的伸卡製造一些界外或不好的contact,有一些來源說Saito會丟指叉球,但是以我看到的那些可能是指叉的球來說,不論是球速和變化都應該是伸卡,僅有一兩球比較有一點指叉的樣子,同時我也沒有看過他的指叉握球,所以目前我將Saito視為不投指叉的投手。至於對抗右打,Saito的策略就非常簡單了,外角低(也會使用好球帶的中上半部但下半部是主角)角落的速球和滑球,時而在好球帶內時而在外,他能把右打徹底壓制的主軸就僅此而已。雖然有時會有一些外角曲球、偏高速球或內角的滑球曲球,那但都是偶爾拿來突襲或秀給打者看的。至於為什麼這麼簡單的策略可以有這麼強大的威力,就是兩個字「控球」而已。不管是速球還是滑球,Saito都有很棒的「打角」的能力,他的球威配上這樣的打角確率讓打者實在頭痛不已。右打者如果想要看到Saito給他一顆好打的速球才要出手,那還是直接回休息室休息比較快。Saito對右打的速球幾乎全部都是在外角遊走,偶爾進到偏中間的位置時不是偏高就是偏低,而內角的數量更是稀少,而且通常是腰帶到手腕附近的高球,以他low-90s的速度配合他丟高時不錯的上升尾勁,加上丟進來的頻率又低,要一發現是內角後跟上並確實擊中難度也非常高。而一般情況下他的外角主軸就讓打者在不揮被他打中角落,揮了又是很難打的位置上所困擾著,而且這只是空的部分而已,Saito凌厲的滑球和曲球讓打者在時的部分就已經頭很大了,空的部分只是個雙重保險而已。

Baseball Analysts上Joe Sheehan最新一篇關於Pfx-data的文章裡面有提到Saito特別的一點,就是他的速球讓打者的揮空率高達42%,遠遠超出了聯盟平均的13%,其中對右打更是高達誇張的60%,左打則是29%,Sheehan也找了一些球速和移動量跟Saitoh最接近的投手來做比較,但這些投手當中沒有人能有Saito這樣高的揮空率,如果Sheehan有觀察投手的能力並且有觀察過Saito的投球的話,他可能就會對這樣的結果比較可以理解了,Saito的高揮空率並不是因為他的球有什麼獨特的跑法或尾勁(當然他的上升尾勁也是有幫助),而是他優異的打角能力配合其球威和投球策略造成的,基本上一場球裡面右打者根本不會對他的速球出手太多次,因為都是在邊邊角角的位置,基本上就不會很想打,加上又有機車的滑球的保護,偶爾跑進來一點也是非高即低,才造成這樣的高揮空率,而其他速球與Saito速度尾勁都類似的投手由於沒有這種優異的控球力,當然沒有辦法投出同樣的結果。而Saito面對左打時則是以高速球造成的揮空較多,但因為沒有像對右打那樣的外低速滑絕技可以用,加上速球的使用比率也比較高一點,所以揮空率也掉了一半。至於38歲高齡的Saito能不能繼續維持這樣的球威和控球到領高薪,就只有時間來證明了,如果沒辦法的話那也只能說時也命也了。

Saito came to the states last year and lights out in L.A. Due to a lack of a dropping-away kind of off-speed offering against lefties, he pitches more effectively against righties. However, this isn't to say he is not good against them, just not as un-hittable to the extend when against righties. When he faces a left-handed hitter, he locates his fastballs both in and out, while not exclusively aiming the lower corner of the strike-zone. He uses the upper half of the strike-zone pretty often and pretty well. He puts his curves low-and-away for swing-and-misses, low-and-in for strikes looking. In the meantime he mixes in sliders either in on batter's wrist, working as a cutter, or going back doors. From time to time he tries to induce weak contact with his sinkers away. Some sources say Saito throw a splitter but it doesn't seem like it's one of his main repertoire.

When facing a right-handed hitter, things get much simpler. While using the upper half of the strike-zone occasionally, his bread and butter is the low-and-away corner of the strike-zone, blending his fastballs and sliders while changing the locations, making it within or out of the strike-zone, as called for by the situation. You might see some outside curves, high-heats, or sliders in, but those are only to be shown or to surprise.

One might wonder why is that a such simple strategy being that effective, the key is Saito's amazing command. Fastball or slider, he spots them right at the very corner of the strike-zone with a very high reliability and precision, making hitters constantly falling behind in the counts and getting overly aggressive to his subsequent offering outside the zone. A hitter rarely see a fat pitch coming while Saito is on the mound. Additionally, even when he does miss, he miss in the "right direction". The excellent control along with his velocity sitting in the low-90s range and the way he sinks or rises his fastballs, it is extremely tough for batters to jump on any of his pitches. They are often in the dilemma of swinging at those bad-strikes or falling behind further in the count, kept off-balance both timing-wise and location-wise.

There is an article by Joe Sheehan on Baseball Analysts mentioning something special about Saito that surprises Sheehan, that the hitters swing and miss to his fastball as often as 42% of time, much higher than the league average, which is 13%. The rate gets even higher when he faces a right-handed hitter, to an eye-popping 60% (29% against lefties). Sheehan compared Saito to some other pitchers whose fastball moves similarly and travels at a similar velocity. None of them was even close to Saito in terms of missing bats. If Sheehan had spent some time observing Saito pitching, he wouldn't have been surprised by the result. That extremely high swing-and-miss percentage against righties didn't come from how his fastball moves but from how he spots his fastballs and sliders with precision and consistency, which also contributes in his ability to stay ahead in the count. As a result, right-handed hitters is constantly forced to swing at those fastballs located outside of the zone, or miss the timing due to trying to avoid to be fooled by his sliders away. However, when facing the lefties, Saito has to go in more often and his slider doesn't protect his fastball as effectively as pitching to a right-handed hitter. As a result, the swing-and-miss percentage dropped significantly (from 60% against righties to 29% against lefties). 


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